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Out of the Closet and Onto the Olympic Floor: A Qualitative Look at Social Media User’s Perceptions of Transgender Olympic Athletes

Abstract

To date, there are limited qualitative studies examining the integration of transgender athletes within professional, amateur, and elite sports. Utilizing a qualitative content analysis of social media users’ responses to five transgender Olympic athletes, this study explores perceptions shared across two major social media platforms. Six themes emerged from our data transphobia, transmisogyny, mental illness claims, science claims, confusion, and support. The majority of users expressed transphobic and transmisogynistic concerns about fairness and shared negative perceptions of transgender athletes as dangerous, deviant, and in need of mental health services.

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Acknowledgements

We sincerely thank Dr. Amanda Petersen, Dr. Ruth Triplett, and Dr. Kent Sandstrom for their constructive comments on an earlier draft. We would also like to thank our peers for their feedback and support. Finally, we would like to thank the reviewers for their insight and constructive feedback that helped strengthen this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Monk-Turner.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to report. We utilize publicly available user comments to social media posts. We never tie any response to a particular individual or identify any individual to a particular comment. The work was deemed as exempt from the College of Arts and Letters Human Subjects Committee.

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Avalos, S., Kibler, M. & Monk-Turner, E. Out of the Closet and Onto the Olympic Floor: A Qualitative Look at Social Media User’s Perceptions of Transgender Olympic Athletes. Gend. Issues (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-022-09299-6

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Keywords

  • Social media
  • Transgender
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Qualitative research